- Food & Drink
- Design & Culture
- Cars, Jets & Yachts
By Emma Reynolds | March 25 2020
Tiina Smith is Boston-based jewelry collector, curator and retailer of exquisite vintage jewelry, who collects some of the finest pieces from Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co, Cartier, Bulgari, Boucheron, David Webb, Moussaieff, Buccellati, David Morris and more.
The Harvard Business School alum spent her career on Wall Street world before dedicating her time to curating vintage jewelry. She has degrees from the Gemological Institute of America and runs Tiina Smith Jewelry Gallery in Boston and also retails exclusive pieces from her collection as part of a temporary exhibition at Saks Fifth Avenue’s The Vault, the high-end retailer’s first-ever dedicated high-jewelry boutique. Smith speaks exclusively with Elite Traveler on how she got into the industry and what makes vintage jewelry so special.
I began collecting rare vintage jewelry in my 30’s, and when I had the opportunity to start my own entrepreneurial business I knew it would center around fine jewelry. Buying for my personal collection has taught me so much about honing my aesthetic, finding reliable sources and researching individual pieces to fully understand value.
I always look for magnificent examples by the great 20th and 21st century master jewelers. I pay attention to what my clients are looking for and search for pieces that I know they will love, either because of their unusual design, rare materials or exceptional craftsmanship.
I’ve looked at so many pieces throughout my collecting life and studied the work of the great houses, so when I come upon a piece I’ve never seen before I know it’s special.
Vintage jewelry comes with history, from the maker to what was going on in the world at the time it was crafted. And if we’re lucky, we may even know a bit about who owned it. My clients want something that tells a story, signature pieces that define their style and know that no one else will have.
My clients are always looking for pieces with interesting materials – chrysoprase, coral and rock crystal. And modern couples are increasingly asking for engagement rings featuring stones other than colorless diamonds.
We’re also seeing a renewed interest in the styles of the ’60s and ’70s, anything from the bold minimalism of a Van Cleef & Arpels gold and onyx curb link chain to the full-on glamour of a late ’70s pair of Boucheron diamond convertible earrings. There’s a desire to have the best examples by the finest makers.
In my previous career I worked on Wall Street in investment banking. Successfully investing in stocks and developing a broad financial portfolio requires many of the same principles as acquiring fine vintage jewelry: knowledge of the market, in-depth research and a solid understanding of value as the bottom line.
I love working in jewelry, whether it is helping my clients build out a collection, finding that one extraordinary piece or meeting contemporary makers who are crafting the most exciting pieces today.
As a longtime jewelry collector, I built this business from the perspective of what I would expect as a client. We offer rare and one-of-a-kind jewels that are not available elsewhere. Our business model is built on a foundation of transparency and personal attention, including our signature concierge services, which provide everything from education and collection management to in-home consultations and styling advice.
For more information, visit tiinasmithjewelry.com